Johnson shares impact of GTPDD

By Russell Hood
The Webster Progress-Times

The Golden Triangle Planning and Development District provides a wide variety of programs and services to Webster County and its municipalities, according to Executive Director Rudy Johnson.

Johnson, addressing the Eupora Rotary Club on Sept. 16, pointed out that the district’s total economic development impact here was $7.15 million in 2013-14, according to a project summary he distributed.

That total is from grants and local matches the PDD administered for various governmental projects and equipment needs inside the county — such as police cars, fire trucks, tractors/mowers, and water and sewer projects.

They also include the Homeowner Rehabilitation (HOME) Grant program for reconstruction of substandard housing, which was started 24 years ago. For 2013-14, HOME program spending was $335,882 for Webster County and $345,631 for the city of Eupora.

Webster is one of seven counties served by the GTPDD, which was established in 1971 and is headquartered in Starkville. It is one of 10 planning and development districts in the state that were created to get federal money to local levels, and help cities and counties plan and do grant work. Johnson said the GTPDD employs nearly 400 people, including four grant writers.

Additionally, the Golden Triangle Area Agency on Aging served 278 Webster Countians and provided 42,693 home-delivered meals here in 2013-14. The agency also operates the Fellowship Food Center in Eupora. Additional AAA services include legal referral, an ombudsman and respite services.

“A lot of people don’t have support,” Johnson said of the social services provided for older people.

Other PDD programs include the Medicaid Waiver Program and the Workforce Investment Program that helps high school youth develop the skills needed to attain and maintain employment.

The agency also owns the former Wood College campus in Mathiston and allowed East Webster High School to relocate there in 2011 until classes resumed last year at the new school in Cumberland. Holmes Community College has offered classes at the Wood campus in the past and Johnson said he plans to talk to Holmes’ new president, Jim Haffey, about its future use.˚